The Cariboo Cougars got a warm welcome in Fort St. James on Saturday night and didn't disappoint the crowd with a thrilling 3-2 win against the Greater Vancouver Canadians.
Jesse Roach scored twice, including the winner with just 1:17 to go in the third. Colton Thomas aslo scored for the Cougars as the BC Major Midget League team moved its home game up Highway 27 to the Fort Forum due to a city labour dispute in Prince George.
Braeden Gurney and Scott Munro replied for the Canadians.
With the game knotted 2-2, Roach won a face-off in the Cougars end and three Cariboo players quickly broke out on a 3-on-1 break. Steven Jandric drew a defender to him and then fed Roach who beat Canadians goalie Tyler Shugrue.
For the Cougars (9-12-2) the victory snaps a six-game winless streak dating back to mid-November.
The Cougars never trailed and held a 2-0 lead heading into the final stanza.
The Canadians (11-11-1) scored twice early in the third to tie the score, first Gurney scored after some miscommunication in front of the Cougars net then Munro was johnny on the spot when the puck took an unexpected bounce off the end boards.
Jeremy Matte preserved the points for the Cougars stopping Owen Siedel on a breakaway and then making another big save as the Canadians had a 3-on-1 rush with two minutes to play.
Roach opened the scoring just over 11 minutes into the first when he converted right off a face-off in the Canadians end. His unassisted tally came mere seconds after the Cougars were given their third power play of the period.
Earlier in the frame Cariboo had a two-man advantage for 1:28, but the Canadians successfully killed that one off.
Thomas extended the Cougars lead to 2-0 late in the second when he banged a rebound past Shagrue.
Jeremy Matte came up big in net in the second, his biggest save coming off the stick of Kyle Uy from point blank range. Joshua Murphy had the best opportunity for the visitors when a bounce off the end boards fooled Matte, but with the Cougars goalie out of position, the Canadians forward as unable to convert.
Greg Dakus had a great chance for the Cougars midway through the second, but Shagrue got his pad over in time to make a toe save at the side of the net.
The Cougars and Canadians are two of six teams separated by just five points in the tight middle section of the BCMML standings. Heading into the weekend the Canadians led that group with 23 points, good for fourth overall. The Cougars, sitting on 18 points were in eighth place.
The Cougars closed that gap on Saturday and will look to bring the two teams even closer on Sunday morning.
The two teams will be back in Prince George on Sunday to conclude the weekend set at 10 a.m. at CN Centre.
Last Updated on Sunday, 15 December 2013 03:50
Jeremy Matte was strong between the pipes and Colton Thomas picked up his second goal and fourth point of the weekend as the Cariboo Cougars snapped a five-game losing streak with a 1-1 tie against the Valley West Hawks.
Thomas, who scored once and had two assists in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Hawks, scored the lone goal for the Cougars on Sunday morning at the Langley Sportsplex. With the tie Cariboo now has a 12-8-2 record in the BC Major Midget Hockey League. The Hawks drew for the first time this season and are now 15-6-1 on the year.
The Cougars wrap up a six-game road trip with an 0-5-1 record and will be very much looking forward to returning home next weekend when they host the Great Vancouver Canadians for a pair. Saturday's game at CN Centre is set for 4:15 p.m. with the rematch on Sunday at 10 a.m.
Last Updated on Sunday, 08 December 2013 23:13
Kamloops Blazers defenceman Josh Connolly will be on the ice at CN Centre on Dec. 23 as the Cariboo Cougars renew an an annual holiday tradition.
Connolly will be among the nearly two dozen graduates of the Cougars program to return for the alumni game.
“It’s fun going back, playing with some of the guys you played with, playing with the new guys,” Connolly said. “I enjoyed it last year and it should be fun this year as well.”
Connolly has fond memories of the time he spent playing for his hometown team in the BC Major Midget League. He said his time with the Cougars helped him prepare to take the next step in his hockey career.
“It’s really like the Western Hockey League, practice a lot, you work out a lot and it’s a good level of hockey,” he said.
In particular Connolly credits the Cougars coaching with helping him improve his play in his own end, something of upmost importance for a player at his position.
In 42 regular-season games over two seasons with the Cougars, Connolly had 13 goals and 29 assists. But some of his favourite experiences came during visits to the Mac's Midget AAA tournament in Calgary.
“The playoff run was pretty cool and I made a lot of friends," he said.
Connolly had a lot of success on the ice with the Cougars and that carried over to last year when as a rookie he helped the Blazers reach the WHL's Western Conference final. This year Connolly is taking on a bigger role on the ice with a Blazers team in rebuilding mode.
"I know our team isn’t as strong as last year, but I’m playing a ton,” he said. “Hopefully our team can start winning and make the playoffs, that would be a really good goal for us.”
Come Dec. 23 at 7 p.m., Connolly and the other players in the Cariboo Cougars alumni game can put aside all those concerns about their club teams, reconnect with old friends and have a good time on the CN Centre ice.
Among the other players who will suit up are:
Ryan Howse F
Alex Roach D
Seb Lloyd F
Tyson Witala F
Chase Witala F
Jake LeBrun F
Jordan Duncan F
Justin Duncan D
Liam Blackburn F
Braiden Epp F
Linden Martell F
Tanner Fejstrom F
Raymond Grewal D
Stephen Penner D
Harjas Grewal F
Chase Astorino F
Shaun Cormier F
Chris Allbee F
Nick Headrick D
James Morrison G
Jared Rathjen G
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:43
It's never hard to tell when Bryan Allbee is on the ice for the Cariboo Cougars. Not only does the blue-liner have one of the bigger bodies on the team, he's also one of the most vocal players in the rink.
Allbee knows the importance of communicating with his teammates and when he's open and looking for a pass, his voice echoes throughout the CN Centre.
"It's huge, everyone's got to start doing it," the second-year player from Prince George said. "We've got to start talking more."
All that talking is paying off for Allbee as he's averaging nearly a point a game for the Cougars, while still adhering to his defensive assignments in his own zone. His excellent play early in the year earned him the team's nomination for BC Major Midget League player of the month.
In 18 games this year he has seven goals and 10 assists.
"I'm trying to hop into the offence whenever I can and produce to help the team," he said.
Allbee said his offensive numbers have jumped this year in part because he's being put in situations to succeed.
"I'm getting the ice time and the points are coming a lot more than last year," he said. "Being on the power helps a lot too."
Prior to dropping a pair of games to the BCMML leading Okanagan Rockets last weekend, the Cougars had won five of eight and Allbee said the team is really starting to gel.
The Cougars are going to need to find that formula for success again asAllbee and his teammates are getting ready for back-back road trips in the coming weeks, first against the Vancouver NW Giants and then against the Valley West Hawks. The next home games are slated for Dec. 14-15 when the Greater Vancouver Canadians come calling.
On the horizon is the annual Mac's Midget Tournament in Calgary over the holidays
"I'm really looking forward to it, I had an awesome experience last time," Allbee said. "We were pretty successful last year."
Although his offensive game is flourishing, Allbee is still working on using his six-foot, 170-pound frame more effectively in the physical aspect of the sport.
"I know the coaches want me to start picking it up," he said. "I should be hitting lots."
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:19
Hockey Hall of Fame bench boss Roger Neilson was nicknamed Captain Video for bringing technology to coaching, but the Cariboo Cougars are taking Neilson's teachings to a whole new level.
With a camera in the press box and a tablet on the bench, the Cougars' coaching staff is able provide players with realtime video feedback between shifts. Cougars general manger Trevor Sprague believes the Cougars are the first team in the province at the BCMML level to employ the technology.
Assistant coach Mike Matthies has an eagle view of the game from the video suite and he's connected wirelessly via headset to fellow assistant Tyler Halliday. If either coach sees something that requires a follow up, they can chat and have Matthies send a video clip right to the bench where Halliday can go over the play with the players involved.
Matthies gave the example of a turnover as the type of situation which can turn into a quality teaching moment.
"It helps us coach them and it helps them coach themselves," Matthies said. "It makes me a better coach and it makes them better players."
The coaches have been perfecting the system in recent weeks, first trying to communicate by texts before switching to the headsets. Matthies believe they've worked out the kinks and are looking forward to reaping the benefits of being on the front lines of coaching innovations.
The players are responding well to the new tools the coaches have at their disposal.
"It's a big new fancy thing and I think they're really starting to like it," Matthies said.
The video coaching extends beyond just the in-the-moment clips players can see on the bench to more extensive breakdowns after games.
Once just a luxury for professional athletes, video coaching has been working its way into the various developmental levels of hockey for years,
"Now the sky is the limit for what we can teach them," Matthies said.
To learn more on what the Cariboo Cougars are doing you can view a video done by CKPG on what the team is doing with this new tech. http://ckpg.com/cariboo-cougars-exploring-technology-video
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 November 2013 04:42